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How Coffee Machines Work: The Technology Behind Delicious Coffee

Coffee brewing has been a method that has existed for over hundreds of years. Surprisingly, it wasn’t until the late 19th century that the famous espresso made its way into the coffee scene. Have you ever sipped on your delicious foamy cup of coffee and ever wondered, how does a coffee machine work? Well, apart from the clang, hiss and hum the machines make, there is a lot of technology that delivers great quality coffee every time. We’ve got all the secrets of the inner workings of the coffee machines, so that you know how they deliver delicious coffee next time you grab your cup.

Does the coffee machine we use really make a difference?

In a world where coffee beans are roasted, ground, and filtered, the options for the way you brew coffee is endless. The equipment plays a vital role in the taste and overall texture of your coffee depending on what you like. Coffee machines come in all shapes and sizes, and therefore offer different coffees every time. The way that coffee machines work has been trailed and tested for many years, to offer you a great coffee experience.  


Equipment matters, but not because of how it looks, or works, but for the coffee it serves. Choosing your machine, or preferred coffee brewer, is down to personal preference entirely. With so many different coffee machines and methods such as the drip method, and Moka pot are becoming increasingly popular, it is a hard world to navigate.

How does a coffee machine work?

Coffee machines have been created for convenience and to serve you great coffee in the comfort of your own home. One such machine that is one of the easiest to use are known as the pod coffee machine. Making coffee is a simple art form, which basically needs water and ground coffee.


If you are the owner of a pod coffee machine, or even a Grind and Brew coffee machine, then you may wonder, whilst watching your cup fill up with delicious coffee, how coffee machines actually work and what is the technology behind your favourite drinks. So, let’s find out.

How does the pod coffee machine work?

The most popular choice for those morning coffee lovers, recently becoming more popular, the single-serve coffee maker is the easiest of all to use. So, how does the pod coffee machine work?


Once you switch the machine on, and ultimately press ‘go’, the water heats up to the perfect temperature as it is filtered up past the heating element. As soon as the water has reached the perfect temperature, the water is then pumped through a narrow needle which increases its pressure.


The way the pod coffee machine works is really quite straightforward. The coffee pod is inserted into the machine, using the pod compartment, which is then closed. The pod is then pierced, on the top side of the capsule. Once the drink size is chosen, using the dial on the machine, the machine will pump the correct amount of water, this is when the magic starts to happen. The water is pumped through the ground coffee pod, and releases that undeniably great flavour. There is a small piece of filter paper at the bottom of the pod which stops any sneaky coffee grounds from falling into your coffee, and there you have a great cup of coffee.


There are 4 elements to the pod coffee machine, the reservoir and pump, the heating element, and then the needles.


The Reservoir
The reservoir in the pod coffee machine is the same as the reservoir in the drip coffee machine, but much more advanced. The reservoirs’ main purpose is to hold the water, that you pour in, which ultimately is heated up and then turned into coffee. There is a filter system within the reservoir with its very own level sensor which sits at the bottom of the reservoir which helps to avert any sediments, from the water, reaching other areas of the machine.   


The water level sensor, you may have noticed, is a small magnetized disc which shares signals with a sensor to ensure there is enough water in the reservoir for the machine to function. Make sure that the disc is always floating, this means that there is enough water in the machine, meaning the machine won’t burn out.


The Pump
This part of the machine sits alongside the filter system and it takes the water from the reservoir and filters it through into the base of the machine. The water is then pushed by the pump through the heating element in the machine, which signals the heating element to start its heating process.


The heating element
This, rather simply, is where the water is heated up to make your coffee. No matter how much water there is in the reservoir, it is able to consistently be heated up. If there isn’t enough water, the heating element has the ability to cut the power supply to the heating element in cases where there is not enough water in the machine. If there isn’t sufficient amount of water in the reservoir before the heating process, the heating coil may be at risk of burning out.


Two Needles
The needles are located in the brewing chamber of the pod coffee machine, and they are used to pierce the top of the coffee pod, which allows the water to run through the ground coffee. The holes allow the water to filter through and out the pod which creates the velvety, and delicious cup of coffee.

These easy-to-use coffee machines are the go-to for many people, they are quick, easy and efficient, and always make great coffee. These machines do a lot of clever and technical work behind the scenes, that all leads to great tasting coffee. So, if you still want to know how other coffee machines work, carry on reading to find out more.

How does the drip coffee machine work?

The way this coffee machine works is by running water through the coffee before pouring the brew into your cup.

A drip coffee machine is made up of two sections, the top and the bottom. The cold water is added to the top of the machine, known as the reservoir, and the ground coffee is added to the filter, which sits in the top of the machine. Once the machine is switched on, the water then heats up and passes through the beans, in a shower-like instrument called the faucet. The brewed coffee is then dispensed into a glass carafe which sits on top of a hot plate.

How does the espresso coffee machine work?

The Espresso coffee machine works by heating the water and running it through the pressed coffee grounds at high pressure. In an espresso machine, the water will either come from a small reservoir where the water is poured into, or will come from a connected water line.

A pump is needed to create the pressure which forces the water through the ground coffee at the correct pressure. This is when the boiler kicks into action. The water is fed into the boiler trough a valve which opens and sends the pressurized, hot water through the ground coffee.

How do grind and brew coffee machines work?

Grind and brew coffee machines grind the coffee beans immediately before brewing. Once the beans have been ground, the water will heat up, and filter through the coffee grounds, then the coffee will start to brew either in a mug or glass carafe.

There are two different kinds of grind and brew machine blades, one has a single blade, known as the blade grinder, and grinds beans like a food processor would. The other is known as the burr grinder, which is made up of two pieces of hard material that grinds the beans as they make their way through the two.

Why should I buy a coffee machine?

Knowing how a coffee machine works, and understanding the different types is all part of understanding great coffee. The pod coffee machine is the perfect choice for those who want to be able to have delicious coffee quickly, and without any problems. Due to the pods already having great ground coffee inside them, you are guaranteed great flavour and freshness.

Of course, there is the fact that it is incredibly easy to use, and can literally make any espresso-based coffee drink in under a few seconds. The modern pod coffee machines, allow you to select the temperature of your drink and the brew strength and length, so that you have full control over that taste of your coffee and the temperature.

Because of the simple way in which a coffee machine works, you can have a coffee shop experience catered specifically to your needs right at home. Take control of your coffee experience and indulge in the easy to use, and stress-free coffee machines, that allow you to sit back and relax as they get to work on making your delicious coffee.

FAQs about how our pod coffee machines work

What does a red light on the Dolce Gusto mean?

If your dolce gusto coffee machine has a light that is permanently on red, then this could mean that it has overheated, and needs to be switched off. Or with most Dolce Gusto machines, the red light means that the water has reached temperature and you’re ready to press go on the machine.

If your machine shows a red light after making your coffee, and then switches off, this means that the machine has just gone through a ‘cool down’ process.

What does the orange light on the Dolce Gusto machine mean?

The lights that appear on the coffee machines can sometimes be a bit off putting, and lead to you reaching for your manual. If you have a solid orange light on your machine, this means that it is time to descale the machine. Most of our Dolce Gusto machines have an integrated computer which keeps count of how many coffees are made with the machine. When the counter reaches to around 300, then the computer sends a signal to the power light, turning it orange to alert that the time has come for descaling.

What if it continues to light up?

If the machine is done rescaling and the orange light continues to light up, then this may be an error with the machine. There are a few things you can try to get rid of the flashing light, such as a hard reset, which is turning the machine off at the wall, and then waiting for a few seconds to switch it on again. This should hopefully clear the internal memory of the coffee machine.


Now that you know all about how coffee machines work, why not read our article about single origin coffee next?

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